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Interview with Author and Editor Melanie Meadors

Posted on July 12, 2019 by Flames

FlamesRising.com is pleased to present an interview with author and editor Melanie R. Meadors. Her latest release is an anthology called Tales of Excellent Cats, for the Monarchies of Mau roleplaying game.

Hi Melanie! Can you introduce yourself to our FlamesRising.com readers?

Hi there! I am an author of science fiction and fantasy, I edit anthologies, and I also write and edit role playing game material. I also am the game master for games I run out of my home and a local gaming shop. I love to sew vintage style clothing, and I’m a science blogger and space advocate. Basically, I’m a professional nerd! I figure, if we only live once, we might as well take advantage of everything we can.

We have to ask. Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?

I’m kind of partial to werewolves, with my love of animals and all, but I will always have a soft spot for my first vampire, Barnabas Collins.

One of the hats you wear is an editor for themed anthologies. What excites you about putting together a collection of short stories?

This might sound weird, but one of the major reasons I love to put anthologies together is because I seriously enjoy seeing how far authors can stretch the rules while still staying true to the spirit of the theme. When I first start listing out potential authors for a project, I really try to get a big mix of people in there. Not just of genres, but of personalities and of every aspect people can have. I love being surprised by the stories from these authors. As an editor, you might THINK you know what type of stories fit into a theme, but it rarely is true in the end. And one of my favorite things is to bring authors out of their comfort zones. “But…I don’t write___!” Well, that’s exactly why I chose you! I just really get bored of reading the same exact authors in every anthology about a certain topic. And I’ve never been disappointed by an author yet–on the contrary, some of the best stories I’ve edited are from authors who “don’t write___,” because they don’t rely so heavily on old tropes or cliches.


Tales of Excellent Cats anthology

You just announced the release of a new collection called Tales of Excellent Cats for the Monarchies of Mau RPG. How did your process for this anthology differ from the other books you’ve worked on?

Tales of Excellent Cats is a bit different from other anthologies I’ve worked on in that there is already an established setting for the stories, with some “rules” the authors and myself had to follow. All these stories take place in the Monarchies of Mau, which is a post-human world where cats and dogs (and lizards) walk and talk, have adventures, have families, and live in a structured society much like the humans before them. We had a set history of the world, and some things were set in stone. The fun part was choosing the authors. About half the authors I chose for the book were people who were known for their tie-in fiction. But the other half were people who, in some cases, never dreamed of writing something that was game related. I had to convince them that, yes, that was exactly why I wanted them on the project. And all of them did wonderful work.

As far as what was different, editing had some new challenges, because I wasn’t just reading the story and saying, “Yes, this is good.” The stories had to both be good AND follow a few certain rules of the world. Some of the authors, for example, might have missed a little detail in the world guide they had, so we had to work together to get some of the nitty gritty things right, or figure out reasons why this particular case didn’t follow the rules. But this was definitely one of my favorite anthologies to work on.

You’ve also mentioned you’re writing a D&D 5th Edition-compatible adventure for Vigilante City. Can you tell us more about the project?

Yes! Vigilante City is sort of a gritty, near-future, urban world where there are superheroes (and villains). It kind of has a grown up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Batman: The Animated Series feel to it. When I heard that, I knew I had to be involved. It’s been a lot of fun to work with Bloat Games and the other writers involved. This is my adventure teaser: “New brands of villains are roaming the streets of Vigilante City; prisoners have gone missing from the City Jail; suspicious activity has been reported at SynGen Labs. How are all of these things connected, and what’s up with this costumed kid who keeps tailing the heroes around town? Better yet…why aren’t the higher ups getting involved?” I’m having a blast writing it.


Kaiju Rising II: Reign of Monsters

In addition to your editorial and gaming work, you’re also a short story writer. If you could pick one short story you wrote (published or unpublished), which one is your favorite and why?

My favorite short story that I’ve written so far is “Morituri,” which was published in the anthology Kaiju Rising II: Reign of Monsters. It brings together two of my favorite things? Ancient Rome and giant monsters. I had intended on the story being full of terror and action, but it also ended up being kind of emotional and has some intrigue that ties it into real history. I also got to put my knowledge of Latin swearing to good use, finally.

Your Patreon is astronomy-themed–a departure from your other genre work. Tell us about your love of science and how you apply that to your editorial and written work.

Ever since I could talk, I’ve been obsessed with science. It’s what I went to school for–physics and astronomy, specifically. When I was little, and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell them, “A scientist.” And when they would ask what I wanted to study, I would reply, “Bears. And space.” The answer is still kind of accurate. I love solving problems in creative ways, looking at things from different angles, and I just am constantly amazed by the world we live in. I like to harness that sense of marvel and discovery in the stories I write and read and share with others. My analytical side definitely gets in the way of my creative side sometimes, but I’ve been balancing them for quite a few years now, and it seems to work. I’m hoping to go back to school soon, in fact, to pursue a degree in Environmental Science!

When we see you at conventions, we often marvel at your retro outfits. What made you decide to pick fashion from 1920s and 30s?

Well, I hate business casual clothes. That’s where all this started. I was trying to bend some rules, and it took on a life of its own. There’s something empowering about wearing clothes from times gone by, and doing things while wearing them that people in those times could never dream of. And many of the people who wore those clothes originally actually paved the way for us to be able do things we now take for granted. So it’s kind of an homage thing, but at the same time, it’s also very fun.

In addition to your creative efforts, you’re also a key coordinator for the Gen Con Writer’s Symposium. Can you tell us about this program?

Kelly Swails and I are the co-directors of the Gen Con Writer’s Symposium, which is part of Gen Con the gaming convention. We’re actually one of the larger writer’s events in the country, and our focus is on science fiction and fantasy, with a bit of horror thrown in. Every year we have about eighty panelists, comprised of authors, editors, agents, and other industry professionals. We have around 150 hours of programming, and cover things from how to even start writing to how to keep fresh after writing your twentieth book. There are panels about craft, business, marketing, how to submit, and spotlights on certain publishers. It’s a lot of fun and, according to feedback, very helpful to writers of all levels.

If you could pick any cupcake to appear before you right now, which one would it be and why?

That would be a white cake cupcake from Culpepper’s bakery in Worcester, MA. I haven’t had one since I was a student at Holy Cross there, but I REMEMBER. Moist, just the right density and crumb, with buttercream frosting. For Pete’s sake, I live not even fifteen minutes away, I might need to go for a cupcake run! I’m afraid it wouldn’t be the same, though, because I won’t have my college friends with me!

What’s the best way to keep up with your latest news and announcements?

In addition to my website at www.melaniermeadors.com, I’m most active on Facebook (@MelanieRMeadors), and I publish articles and news over on my Patreon and at The Once and Future Podcast blog.


This interview was conducted by FlamesRising.com editor Monica Valentinelli.

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